Salesianum edge Caesar Rodney 34-33 in dual meet wrestling tournament

WILMINGTON — A week ago, the Caesar Rodney High wrestling team went up to Salesianum School, won the toss-up matches and escaped Wilmington with a dual meet victory.

But the Riders came up one point short in their quest to repeat that feat on Wednesday.

Sixth-seeded Caesar Rodney fell at No. 3 seed Salesianum 34-33 on the road in the first round of the Division I state dual meet wrestling tournament. CR ends its season at 6-7 overall while Salesianum advanced to face No. 2 Milford in the semifinals on Saturday.

“The last time we wrestled them we wrestled our best match of the year,” said Caesar Rodney coach Dan Rigby. “They’re extremely-well coached. Both teams came in with a mission, they accomplished it and we didn’t.”

The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Saturday at Smyrna High. The Division II semifinals are at 2 p.m., the Division I semifinals at 4 p.m. and both finals at 6 p.m.

Caesar Rodney had defeated Salesianum 36-33 on Feb. 3 in the regular season.

This time though the Sals clinched the bout before the final match of the night. Owen Klinger won the 126-pound match for Salesianum with a pin to make it 34-24 Sals before a CR decision at 132 sealed things for Salesianum.

The Riders’ effort was highlighted by some clutch performances all throughout the lineup.

Caleb Adamowicz earned a hard-fought 3-0 decision at 152 in the second match of the night. Shamar Nelson helped the Riders maximize their points with a pin in the 195-pound match.

Cam Cataldi recorded a decision in the 106-pound contest, defeating an opponent who he lost to last week. Dawson Mitchell rallied from a 6-0 deficit in his bout for a 13-8 decision at 132 while Pat Wisniewski (138) had a pin in the final match.

“Caleb and Dawson wrestled their butts off and Cam avenged a loss from last week,” Rigby said of his wrestlers. “Even Pat, we already lost a tough defeat and goes out and gets a pin. I’m proud of those guys. Now it’s time to refocus and get ready for individual stuff.”

As in any close match there were plenty of what-ifs for Caesar Rodney.

Salesianum had a pin by Danny Stradley for six points in the 220-pound match which came with only 30 seconds left. That contest also had a bizarre moment in the second period with CR’s Ryan Rigby in control on top but the buzzer sounded 20 seconds into the period. It caused a restart in the middle and Stradley quickly escaped this time.

Stradley was in line for just a decision and three team points before he made the decisive maneuver for six points.

Connor Girard had another huge result for Salesianum when he entered the third period of his 120-pound match trailing 3-2. But Girard earned a reversal for two points and held on to prevent the escape point for a 4-3 victory.

Even Mitchell’s match at 132 had some tense moments at the end. He not only pulled off the comeback for the decision but nearly put his opponent into pinning position for a few seconds just before time ran out in the third period.

For such a young team, Rigby hopes the Riders learned some lessons from the tournament defeat.

“All season long we’ve talked about trying to be consistent,” Rigby said. “Some matches we were very consistent and some we weren’t. We just weren’t able to get it done. Hopefully we can find some consistency in the offseason and get better. We got a lot of young kids, we just got to find some consistency and some grit.”